July 2nd, 2007
06:57 PM ET
12 years ago

Libby commutation: Washington responds

Washington was quick to react to the Libby commutation Monday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Following are reactions to President Bush's announcement Monday that he has commuted the sentence of former vice presidential chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby:

Melanie Sloan, legal counsel to Joe and Valerie Wilson
"First, President Bush said any person who leaked would no longer work in his administration. Nonetheless, Scooter Libby didn't leave office until he was indicted and Karl Rove works in the White House even today. More recently, the vice president ignored an executive order protecting classified information, claiming he isn't really part of the executive branch. Clearly, this is anadministration that believes leaking classified information for political ends is justified and that the law is what applies to other people."

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, and presidential candidate
"This decision to commute the sentence of a man who compromised our national security cements the legacy of an Administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division, one that has consistently placed itself and its ideology above the law. This is exactly the kind of politics we must change so we can begin restoring the American people's faith in a government that puts the country's progress ahead of the bitter partisanship of recent years."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York
"As Independence Day nears, we are reminded that one of the principles our forefathers fought for was equal justice under the law. This commutation completely tramples on that principle."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada
"The President's decision to commute Mr. Libby's sentence is disgraceful. Libby's conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter ofnational security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President's Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California
"The President's commutation of Scooter Libby's prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct, and is a betrayal of trust of the American people. The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case. By his action today, the President shows his word is not to be believed. He has abandoned all sense of fairness when it comes to justice, he has failed to uphold the rule of law, and he has failed to hold his Administration accountable."

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Delaware, presidential candidate
"Last week Vice President Cheney asserted that he was beyond the reach of the law. Today, President Bush demonstrated the lengths he would go to, ensuring that even aides to Dick Cheney are beyond the judgment of the law. It is time for the American people to be heard - I call for all Americans to flood the White House with phone calls tomorrow expressing their outrage over this blatant disregard for the rule of law."

Former Sen. John Edwards, presidential candidate
"Only a president clinically incapable of understanding that mistakes have consequences could take the action he did today. President Bush has just sent exactly the wrong signal to the country and the world. In George Bush's America, it is apparently okay to misuse intelligence for political gain, mislead prosecutors and lie to the FBI. George Bush and his cronies think they are above the law and the rest of us live with the consequences. The cause of equal justice in America took a serious blow today."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, presidential candidate
"It's a sad day when the President commutes the sentence of a public official who deliberately and blatantly betrayed the public trust and obstructed an important federal investigation," said Governor Richardson. "This administration clearly believes its officials are above the law, from ignoring FISA laws when eavesdropping on US citizens, to the abuse of classified material, to ignoring the Geneva Conventions and international law with secret prisons and torturing prisoners.

There is a reason we have laws and why we expect our Presidents to obey them. Institutions have a collective wisdom greater than that of any one individual. The arrogance of this administration's disdain for the law and its belief it operates with impunity are breathtaking.

Will the President also commute the sentences of others who obstructed justice and lied to grand juries, or only those who act to protect President Bush and Vice President Cheney?"

Former GOP Sen. Fred Thompson, likely presidential candidate
I am very happy for Scooter Libby. I know that this is a great relief to him, his wife and children. While for a long time I have urged a pardon for Scooter, I respect the President's decision. This will allow a good American, who has done a lot for his country, to resume his life.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, presidential candidate
“Today's decision is yet another example that this Administration simply considers itself above the law. This case arose from the Administration's politicization of national security intelligence and its efforts to punish those who spoke out against its policies. Four years into the Iraq war, Americans are still living with the consequences of this White House's efforts to quell dissent. This commutation sends the clear signal that in this Administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice.”

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, presidential candidate
"After evaluating the facts, the President came to a reasonable decision and I believe the decision was correct."

Filed under: Scooter Libby
soundoff (1,240 Responses)
  1. Steve Vincent, Los Angeles, CA

    The commutation of Libby's sentence is just another example of how Bush continues to link his administration to the worst presidents in our nations recent history.

    His failure to comprehend the inevitable disaster in Iraq, despite the clear learnings from the Vietnam War, link him forever with the foreign policy failings of the Johnson administration. His determination to elevate the executive branch to a position immune to the Law, and the balance of power dictated by the framers of the constitution, clearly link him with the Nixon administration. And his failure to comprehend the implications of the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence will link him to the failed administration of Gerald Ford.

    Clearly, President Bush is neither a historian, nor a good President.

    July 2, 2007 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  2. Steven Y. Nashville,TN

    Typical CNN bias...11 remarks but only 2 from the Republican side. Way to go guys...really fair & balanced! Report the news...not what you want it to be!

    July 2, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  3. Terry Williams, Florissant MO.

    To the elected to office congressional leaders, this madness must stop. This administration does not value our laws and justice system. What this president has done is unconscionable, he is clearly stating his office and those under is misguided leadership can act as they want. We are headed down a terribly sad road for our country when our president would commute a sentence as egregious of the publics trust as this. I hope we have the courage and strength to act in an ethical and honest manner when needed and in a time of dire need. This president does not value the morals and conscience of my America and I demand immediate and swift action.

    July 2, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  4. Cynthia Foster, Tempe AZ

    It seems to me, a teacher of Social Studies and Civics that I will have a hard time convincing my students that the justice system works in this country. This is a republic not a monarchy as George Bush and his gang think.

    July 2, 2007 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  5. Jeffrey M. Rames, Brightwood Oregon

    Wow, what a group of national leaders. What a disgrace. It is amazing to see another horrible choice made by these Republicans. I for one will never consider voting for these scummy Republicans in my lifetime. It is my sincere hope that during the next election the American public reduce the seats held by Repbulicans to zero or to such a small percentage that they become less significant than the mud on the bottom of my boots. I will be working towards that goal. What a dishonest and stinky bunch of people.

    July 2, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  6. Miles Champion, St Louis Park MN 55416

    I don't see the story here. Everyone knew Bush would let him off the hook. He will pardon Gonzales and Cheney when their time comes.

    July 2, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  7. Billy Thornton, Burke, VA

    Another in a long list of Bush/Cheney embarassments (IRAQ war mismanagement, Katrina, 9/11, Hunting accidents, Halliburton, national debt, trade busts). This administration will go down as the worst in memory. The world has lost complete respect for the US. It will be an arduous task for the next president to begin to restore dignity to the office.

    July 2, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  8. Natalie Moore, Akron OH

    I find it laughable that Hilary Clinton of all people would chime in on Libby's sentence being commuted. Didn't her husband commute the sentences of 30 or so crooks before he left office. Her holier than thou attitude and that of her husband are the highest form of hypocrisy. I'm sure she applauded her husband over it. By the way, why hasn't anything serious happened to Sandy Burger? Didn't he blatantly steal documents?

    July 2, 2007 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  9. Martin Venegas, Fort Worth TX

    I would've been surprised if the President did not commute the sentence – this administration has never given any hint of integrity, honor, or justice before. When this President leaves office you will see the pardoning of some real thugs!

    "No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it"
    –Theodore Roosevelt (who, if you listen carefully, is turning in his grave)

    July 2, 2007 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  10. Joe Wojcik, Katy, Texas

    To: Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Charles Schumer,Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Joe Biden,Former Sen. John Edwards, Gov. Bill Richardson, and Sen. Hillary Clinton

    Regarding: The Commuted Sentence of Lewis Libby

    Your comments related to this decision include a "miscarriage of justice", "presidential administration that feels it is above the law", "completely tramples on the principle of equal justice under the law”, "disgraceful", "blatant disregard for the rule of law", "George Bush and his cronies think they are above the law", and "the lack of accountability".

    All of you, and "your cronies" spend much of your time developing and feeding a "culture of hate". You hate George Bush and most Americans. You feel that we are ignorant to your agenda. You care nothing about the service to the American people. You care nothing about the soldiers in Iraq. You are the most narcissistic group of governmetal leaders in the history of this country. All of you should be very ashamed of yourselves.

    This is a notice to all of you that hte American people are tired of you hate, your fighting, your perception that Americans can be hearded like a herd of sheep. And, next November will be the wake up call for several of you.

    July 2, 2007 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  11. Glenn, Las Vegas, NV

    Out of the 11 comments you posted only 2 were from Republicans. Hmmmmm...very fair and balanced reporting.

    July 2, 2007 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  12. Brad

    Bus is a criminal and should be impeached..this is disgusting!

    July 2, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  13. whizkid, Piqua Ohio

    I most enjoyed the Edwards statement of Bush as "clinically incapable of understanding".
    He's talking of course about the oath he took as president and the rule of law. But it also pertains to his understanding of the will of the people.
    Bush simply doesn't care what we think.

    July 2, 2007 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  14. Chris, Charlotte NC

    I disagree with Sen. Biden about burying the White House with phone calls. We need to bury the Houses of Congress with demands that the impeachment process begin. While the Libby commutation may have been within the President's Constitutional rights, it confirms what many of us have know for some time, he lacks the moral and ethical traits to lead.

    July 2, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  15. Justin, Maryland

    There is a great engraving on the side of the Justice Department's building in Washington DC. It reads "Where rule of law ends, tyranny begins". Today, President George Bush has shown quite clearly where he stands.

    July 2, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  16. Lee Myers, Seattle WA

    This is another reason in the long list of pre-existing justifications for the impeachment of both Bush and Cheney. The abuse of power has to end. The approval ratings for our government are at an all time low. People don't trust the President or Congress. The American people are tired of being disenfranchised by their own government. One set of rules for the rich and another for the poor is bad enough, but then when you factor in politics, the current situation becomes unbearable. We need a change of scenery in Washington now more than ever.

    July 2, 2007 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  17. Earland Lilly Elmhurst, Illinois 60126

    Have we ever had a president who has such an arrogance abuse of power? Has the criminal implications of this entire administration rival any one in our previous history? Ther Terrorists
    in this world have no respect for the Law; neither does President Bush. I am
    68 years old; I have been following politics since I was a boy; I have never been any more embarrassaed by or ashamed of MY president, as I have of
    President Bush. This is not just my European friends; this is my American friends as well.

    July 2, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |


    July 2, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  19. John Shawn, MA

    The president cannot respect law, he does whatever he thinks is right. whats the use of wasting money in going through the trouble of judicial system. He should have said, whatever the case, he will pardon it..so dont waste money.

    July 2, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  20. Jerry P Abraham - Atlanta, Georgia

    Today is a very sad day in US history. Worse, I don't know how many Americans seriously consider the implications of this type of administration. As someone who works in Global Health and Development, this President has done more harm to our reputation and credibility than any other President in modern history.

    If Scooter Libby was really to be the fall man for this leak and abuse of power, no matter how great a guy he is and how wonderful a family he has... He's got to take the fall – and that includes the sentence, not only the conviction. He should've been more cautious about working for messy politicians and an administration that is willing to let decent human beings take the fall for crooked businessmen.

    What will it take for Americans to take to the streets, to march on Washington, to call our troops home, to impeach bad presidents and change the culture of corruption in Washington? We need less professional politicians and more Government of the People, for the People.

    July 2, 2007 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  21. scott hazard ky

    why is it libby gets a get out of jail free card for purgery,and we have two border agents in jail for stoping a drug dealer this adminstration is nothing more than a joke a bad one at that

    July 2, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  22. Fouad, Cornelius, Oregon


    July 2, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  23. Joe Serratore Philadelphia, PA.

    The decision today solidifies the Bush administrations' ongoing destruction of rule of law and democracy. The world can continue to observe the anti-intellectual motives of this government and see the demise and slow decline of a world power- hungry with its imperialistic motives and gangster world policy making. As we remain compliant of a leader who will influence other bad leaders, the devastation Mr. Bush continues to leave behind for this country will be felt for years to come. And with the hopefull end of faith- prohecy ideology and state Terrorist tactics, we can only hope that we will have a chance to make ammends with ourselves and the world, to prove that a true democracy might just get a chance. Happy 4th of July in the middle of a week, dammit.

    July 2, 2007 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  24. Mayo, Boston, MA

    Yet another proof that this country is run by a clique of brigands.

    July 2, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  25. Suzanne Erickson Rochester, NY

    We send someone like Paris Hilton to Jail and then allow Scooter Libby, a convicted felon, to skip the experience completely.

    And sadly I don't think the press and American people will have the same reaction to his "out of jail" pass as they had to Hilton's.

    July 2, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
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